Better Mental Healthcare For Blacks In The UK To Save Lives
According to Guardina UK:
Of all ethnic groups, people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities are 50% more likely to be referred to mental health services via the police than their white counterparts. Entry to mental health services via police custody is the norm for black people. People who use mental health services account for 50% of people who lose their lives in police custody. It is in the area of mental health and policing that many of the most serious causes for concern have arisen over a number of years but continue to remain unaddressed.
A national conference on policing, mental health and black Britons on Thursday in Wolverhampton will explore what action needs to be taken to improve the treatment of this patient group.
Organised by human rights campaigns group Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK) and mental health support service the African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI), this event has been convened in the wake of the high profile Sean Rigg inquest. The case has put the spotlight on the issue of policing and mental health and on the number of fatalities involving patients from the UK’s African Caribbean communities while detained under the Mental Health Act.
Aimed at senior mental health professionals, clinicians, commissioners and frontline staff, this one-day event will offer professionals first-hand knowledge from those running and using services.
Speakers include the care services minister, Norman Lamb, and the shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham. It is the first public forum for the most senior political figures in both mental health and policing to discuss this issue, and look at practical alternatives that are saving lives. Critical lessons still need to be learned across both professions. This event is part of ACCI and BMH UK’s ongoing work to ensure this issue becomes a priority for the present government, the new clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), mental health providers and health and wellbeing boards.
While in most parts of the country there is still a long way to go to even get this issue on the radar of the new CCGs, the West Midlands is leading in the way in ensuring much needed health-based places of safety are open and staffed so that those in crisis who are picked up by the police are taken to hospital rather than end up in a police cell.
Latest figures for this part of the country show that 96% of people detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act were taken directly to a health-based place of safety. Delegates attending this conference will get the opportunity to find out more about how this has been achieved.